Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries Preview



Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries was a pleasant surprise for me. While I don’t take to looking at other’s reviews before critiquing a game, I do look at the screenshots and possibly a trailer or two. From the screenshots, this looks like a basic 2D platformer set against a 3D background, with combat. The first game that sprung to mind was Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a handheld Batman title that was recently ported to the PC. It contained some features of the previous titles, but a fraction of the exploration, being based on a 2D plane. However, The Red Hood Diaries delivered a stylish and darker reimagining of Red Riding Hood, equipped with a new back story, setting and goal.

The game sets off with a broody monologue from Riding Hood. Let me take this opportunity to say she looks much more mature than her fairytale counterpart. She’s grown into what can only be described as a jaded pessimist. This is probably a result from her parents being murdered by the very man she’s hunting- B.B. Woolfe. She starts in an apartment, which requires the player to gather certain scraps of information to unlock. Once the player has done this, the door flies open and the rest of the city is there to explore. Well, when I say explore I mean run through in a linear fashion. There is very little exploration, since while the game takes place on an actual 3D plane (though the camera is always positioned in a way that makes the game look flatter), the levels are quite straightforward. You’re introduced to the mechanics slowly, including platforming, activating switches and wheels, sneaking around and combat. The latter of which utilizes a lethal-looking axe. However, while everything else in the list handles relatively well, the combat felt lacking. There was no weight to my swings, so the enemies showed no reaction to the impact, making fighting feel slightly less satisfying than it should have. There are also a few collectibles scattered around the levels in the shape of what I presume to be the letter “W”. These unlock concept art. The game also keeps a track of the titular diary entries that Red Hood makes, but from what I can see these serve no purpose other than giving Red Riding Hood more of a character.

The audio is quite good. Various parts of the city have different ambience, which reflects the mood or theme of the place. Underground areas have off-putting dripping sounds, while the lifeless city has eerie wind whistling every so often. The voice acting of Red Riding Hood is also well done, though the lines she’s given can be inconsistent at times. During certain moments she’ll have an internal monologue about how her parents suffered and were murdered, and at other times she feels the need to spout wisecracks about the situation. One time I was faced with a pipe that spewed a continuous stream of raw sewage. She then wittily says “Cut the crap”. This coming from a supposedly depressed girl, who was talking about her dead parents literally seconds ago, felt the need to make a lowbrow poop joke. These sort of comments make Woolfe- The Red Hood Diaries feel a little inconsistent at times.

The graphics aren’t anything mind-blowing, but the art style is brilliant. The city Red Riding Hood occupies throughout Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries has a slightly twisted Victorian feel to it, which most steampunk settings do tend to have (and this game is most definitely steampunk). The main grunts of the game, the tin soldiers, look like Nutcrackers crossed with the Terminator. Electricity emits from them as the wheels in their backs twist to keep them moving. Their movements are sudden and jerky, giving them a cold, robotic feel. It’s a shame that incredible features such as these can be marred with graphical glitches. Pop-in is often blatant and frequent, with a lot of objects lacking textures at all for a second or two. Once I was fighting a rat enemy in the sewers, when upon death its tail was stuck in the wall. The physics engine obviously didn’t like this, since the tail stayed still while the rat’s body was convulsing violently as it slowly started to climb the wall (I repeat, this rat was dead. Dead things don’t move). I had to take a screenshot. Plus some technical jargon came up when I pressed F10, which worried me.

Whilst playing Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries I had the horrible feeling I was playing a port of a mobile or handheld game. While it was rare for developers to do this, especially indie developers, it wasn’t impossible. After some research I found that it genuinely wasn’t a port from an inferior platform, but a fully fledged PC game. So then why did I have this feeling? The gameplay was solid enough to stand on its own, we were given a clear goal at the beginning and the production value was much higher than most mobile games. And yet I still felt like I had played this, or something incredibly similar, before. After wracking my brains, I remembered what I had played. Super Mario 3D Land. Oh yeah it has a new lick of paint, it’s much more edgy and geared towards the young adolescents who no longer care about Mario’s shrieks of joy, but the similarities are too large to ignore. 3D platforming on a primarily 2D axis? Check. And… Well, that’s pretty much it. But it’s incredibly specific and is an uncommon mechanic to base a game around. This doesn’t make The Red Hood Diaries any less of a good game, it just makes it feel less original.

Overall, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is a good game. The gameplay is good, the audio fits the atmosphere and I find the story incredibly fascinating (I genuinely want to know if she faces Woolfe and what she does it she has the opportunity). However being an Early Access title, there are a few rough edges every now and again, plus the feeling of déjà vu may not be limited to just me. Other than that, I would recommend this to those who like darker twists on well known stories.